Minnesota United FC has its sights on a season-series sweep and a bit of a buffer in the race to the playoffs when they play host to the Houston Dynamo on Saturday in a key Western Conference matchup at Saint Paul, Minn.
Minnesota United (9-8-7, 34 points) will look to improve on an already impressive home record (7-3-2). The club begins the weekend just above the playoff line in seventh place with 10 games to play but is just one point clear of Los Angeles FC and four points up on both the Vancouver Whitecaps and San Jose Earthquakes.
Minnesota enters off a 3-0 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sept. 18, with Emanuel Reynoso scoring two first-half goals and Ethan Finlay finding the back of the net in the second half.
"We're at that stage of the season where every performance and every point matters," Minnesota coach Adrian Heath said. "You're trying to get in the playoffs and then you're in the playoffs, but can you get a home field game. There's something on every game now."
Minnesota has won both games between the teams this season, capturing a 2-0 decision at home on Aug. 7 and producing a 2-1 victory at Houston three weeks later.
The Loons are 1-2-0 since that win over Houston on Aug. 28 and have won just three times in their past 10 games.
The Dynamo (5-10-11, 26 points) have little wiggle room remaining if they hope to make the playoffs, with only expansion Austin FC below them in the standings.
Houston hits the road after a rousing 3-2 win at home over FC Dallas on Sept. 18 in the season's final rendition of the Texas Derby. The Dynamo received goals from Griffin Dorsey, Fafa Picault and Darwin Quintero for a 3-0 lead then held on as FC Dallas rallied late.
Houston's victory was just its second since getting one on May 22, with both coming in the past three games. In 12th place in Western Conference, the Dynamo have five teams to climb over in the standings, including FC Dallas, to become playoff eligible.
"I'm happy for our players - they've all been working really hard," Houston head coach Tab Ramos said. "They continue to believe. At this point we need to look at the positives - we got seven points this week and it seems we are back on track."
The Dynamo have not won away from home this season with seven loses and six ties.
--Field Level Media